Joe Stumcke Collection
Title: Joe Stumcke Collection
Scope: This collection contains scrapbooks, programmes, photographs of performers at the Kursaal, Bertram Mills Circus and sideshows as well as some business records related to the Stumcke family and their work at the Kursaal and Bertram Mills Circus.
Extent: 9 boxes and 1 envelope
Name of creator: Stumcke Family
Administrative / biographical history: Vernon Stumcke (1926-2017) aka Joe, was a third generation showman, with strong links to Bertram Mills Circus and the UK fairground entertainment industry. Vernon, his father, Gordon and his grandfather Frank, all worked in the fairground industry at Southend on Sea, particularly at the Kursaal, but also at other sea-front locations during the early 20th Century.
The Kursaal, in Southend-on-Sea, opened in 1901 as part of one of the world's first purpose-built amusement parks. The Kursaal site was opened in 1894 as the 'Marine Park and Gardens'. In July 1901 they opened a grand entrance pavilion, the Kursaal Palace, designed by George Sherrin and John Clarke, containing a circus, ballroom, arcade, dining hall and billiard room. Southend's Kursaal became the largest fairground in the south of England.
In 1910 the Kursaal was bought by Luna Park and Palace of Amusements (Southend) Ltd. The park was renamed accordingly to Luna Park and opened a large list of attractions, including the Harton Scenic Railway and Figure of Eight roller coasters, a miniature railway, Astley's circus and a cinema. Luna Park was claiming 100,000 visitors per week at the time.
Vernon and Gordon Stumcke also worked for Bertram Mills Circus from the 1930's to the 1960's. They both worked for many years for Betram Mills travelling around the country while on tour and at Olympia in the winter seasons. Additionally, they managed their own fairground attractions in the summer.
Vernon collected the material over the years, and in later life compiled them into folders with notes, recording his personal memories.
Related Collections: Circus Friends Association Collection, Harry Paulo Family Collection, Lulu Adams Collection, David Robinson Collection, John Bramwell Taylor collection
Source: Donated by Peter Stumcke
System of arrangement: Catalogued according to type
Subjects: Circus, Amusement Parks and Theme Parks, Travelling Entertainment, Performers, Sideshows, Animal Acts, Business, Fixed Entertainment Venues, Freak Shows, Showpeople, Exhibitions, Family Collections, Seaside Entertainment, Speciality Acts
Conditions of access: Items are available to view by appointment in the NFCA reading room
Copyright: Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of National Fairground and Circus Archive, subject to copyright law and condition of the material.
Finding aids: Online finding aid available here